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Kyrgyzstan Follows Neighbors' Example, Creates 'Tourist Police'

The Besh-Aral Forest is a popular destination for tourists in Kyrgyzstan.
The Besh-Aral Forest is a popular destination for tourists in Kyrgyzstan.

BISHKEK -- Kyrgyzstan says it will set up a special police force to provide security for tourists who visit the Central Asian nation. The move follows examples set by neighboring Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.

Zamirbek Soltongeldiev, an official in Kyrgyzstan's Interior Ministry, told journalists on August 16 that the "tourist police" will be formed by the end of 2018.

Soltongeldiev said positions in the new police unit will be available after structural changes within the police force. He said preference will be given to candidates with knowledge of foreign languages.

The announcement comes days after authorities in neighboring Tajikistan created a tourist police force in response to an attack on July 29 that killed four foreign cyclists.

The Islamic State (IS) extremist group claimed responsibility for the killings.

Kyrgyzstan has also been the site of recent attacks by alleged Islamic extremists -- including a 2016 car-bomb attack against the Chinese Embassy in Bishkek that injured three Kyrgyz.

Uzbekistan launched a tourist police force in December in a move described by the Uzbek authorities as "a measure to preserve safe tourism in the country."

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